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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

620                                                                      RAPID POPULATION GROWTH-II
mation. Population policy proposals and population analyses alike make judgments about what is ethically acceptable and unacceptable. In assessing any given population policy recommendation, therefore, it is appropriate to ask not only whether it is likely to work and likely to be adopted, but also whether it is ethically acceptable, that is, whether it is a policy we ought to adopt.*
The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the ethical acceptability of population policy proposals and, at the same time, to suggest a framework for making such evaluations.
THE MEANING OF ETHICAL ACCEPTABILITY
In this paper, "ethical acceptability" has two meanings. First, it is used as a normative criterion. One can ask of any given population policy whether it corresponds to what people ought to value and whether it resolves conflicts of value in the way that these ought to be resolved. These are questions for normative ethics, questions as to what things are right or wrong, good or bad. Among the most universally recognizable normative criteria identified by ethicists are freedom, distributive justice, veracity, and the calculation of benefits and harms, including, at one extreme, harms that threaten survival.'!"
However, normative assessments of the Tightness or wrongness of given population policy proposals may differ. Where disagreements exist, it is necessary to specify criteria for adjudicating moral disputes. This brings us to the second meaning of "ethical acceptability." It can refer to what is specified by meta-ethical criteria, i.e., criteria that provide us with reasons, or a set or procedures, for preferring one moral judgment over another.
There is growing agreement among ethicists that the rationality of moral claims is to be judged by the extent to which they satisfy the following criteria: knowledge of facts; vivid imagination of how others are affected by our actions; and impartiality with respect to both our interests and our passions, so that what obtains for one person obtains for another and for our-
*In (10), Berelson delineates ethical acceptability as one of six criteria by means of which he evaluates population policy proposals. Berelson does not restrict ethical acceptability to normative meaning but uses it also in a purely descriptive way by asking whether a given proposal is congruent with the values of those who will be affected, whatever those values may be.
I'See Ross (11) for a more complete list, one which is widely used and referred to among professional ethicists. Ross calls these norms "prima facie duties." Prima facie duties specify recognizable right- and wrong-making characteristics of actions. Specific actions or policies wil! be right or wrong insofar as they exhibit one or the other of these characteristics. For example, the act of telling a lie to save a friend violates the prima facie duty of truth-telling but satisfies the prima facie duty of not harming others. To decide the Tightness or wrongness of particular actions or policies will usually involve
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